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Water, Wind & People: The forces that shaped Crissy Field

  • Meet by restrooms @ Crissy Field East Beach E Beach SF, CA, 94129 United States (map)
Crissy Field marsh. Photo: Wikimedia

Crissy Field marsh. Photo: Wikimedia

The restored salt marsh at Crissy Field is a landscape shaped by forces both natural and human. Originally part of a larger system of wetlands ringing San Francisco, the marsh and surrounding area was filled in the late 1800s and early 1900s. In 2001, a restored marsh was created by excavating a lagoon out of the artificial fill. The marsh today is a thriving ecosystem that attracts birds, fish, native plants, and a steady stream of visitors from around the world.

What many visitors may not know is that the marsh requires active maintenance to stay a marsh; transport of sand along the beach by ocean waves periodically blocks the flow of water into and out of the marsh, and the channel to the Bay must be mechanically excavated several times a year.

On this walk we will discuss how the interplay of sand, water, wind, and people shapes this landscape, explain why the marsh is not self-maintaining in its current form, and observe some of the plants and animals that reside in the marsh.

Please bring layers to wear, as it can be very windy and cold at Crissy Field! We’ll meet by the restrooms at Crissy Beach, near the intersection of Jauss St and Javowitz St (Crissy Field Center is just on the other side of the parking lot).

Our walk leader, Alex Wong, is a former natural resources intern at Crissy Field. He worked in water quality and hydrology for several years and is now a professor of physics at the College of San Mateo.

Help CCNH continue to provide free natural history events! We suggest a $20 donation per event, no one turned away for lack of funds. You can make a donation here.